directed by ari aster
Another first-time feature director, Aster turns in an assured, forceful debut with this atmospheric creepshow. The pace is measured and the plot unfolds slowly, along the way doling out seemingly offhand tidbits that to this viewer were frankly hilarious at times. (It is hard to say whether any humor was intended.) The story keeps one’s attention, though for the first half or so that is often a byproduct of the fact that it is difficult to suss out precisely what is afoot. Once the second half gets going, it’s more compulsive. A set piece here or there dips into the tried-and-true, flirting with trite, but such engagement mainly serves to reinforce a vague feeling of nostalgia – although it is also true that on occasion a nagging sense of déjà vu may prevail. Never too viscerally frightening, what the proceedings suggest will linger long enough to give one a pretty good case of the heebie-jeebies … as long as certain plot points aren’t given too much thought, of course. Often redolent of a David Lynch film.
why did i watch this movie?
My brother asked me if I’d seen it, so I decided I oughta.
should you watch this movie?
While I’m not sure I agree with the raft of assessments that seem to behold this picture as an utterly terrifying modern horror classic, it’s definitely above-average.
highlight and low point
As has been observed in multiple locations, Toni Collette in the lead role is spectacularly mental, hinted at by affectations and mannerisms and illustrated by torrential revelatory outpourings. These welters of information give the film its dramatic propulsion. Gabriel Byrne, on the other hand, is a cipher as her husband, possibly to prefigure certain thematic elements but playing more as an underacted, nonessential role. The aha moment is underwhelming, having been somewhat telegraphed and bearing the tinge of the overly familiar.